Margarita Gramaticova is our NVMTA spotlight teacher for October. Enjoy reading about her love of music and teaching as well as her current projects and involvement in NVMTA.
What do you like most about playing your instrument?
On the piano we can play the melody and the accompaniment which makes it so satisfying. It’s a very versatile instrument. We can make it sing or imitate the sounds and timbres of different instruments.
What music do you like to listen to?
My favorite music to listen to is classical, but I do listen to other music as well when I am exercising.
How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t practicing or teaching?
I like going out for walks with my husband and our dog (who likes to listen to music too) or sitting outside when the weather is nice and reading.
What music projects are you working on now?
My focus is on learning more new pieces that I’ve never played before.
We pianists are very fortunate because there is so much music written for piano. One of my favorite composers since I was a little girl is Chopin. I think it’s because Chopin’s music has these beautiful melodies that I feel very close to me. I grew up listening to a lot of Italian operas that my dad used to put on for me and we know that Chopin loved the Italian bel canto style and tried to imitate it on the piano. One of my goals is to play everything that Chopin wrote and I already have played a lot of his music. Currently, I am working my way through the Mazurkas.
J.S.Bach is another one of my favorite composers that I always play. I haven’t yet played all of the Preludes and Fugues of his Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1 and Book 2 so I am working on them now. Mozart is one of my favorites as well, and I am working through the Beethoven Sonatas.
While I didn’t get to play much of the French Impressionists when I was growing up so now I try to fill out the gaps by learning more pieces by Debussy and Ravel, which is also a definite influence from my husband!
What have you learned by participating in NVMTA programs?
Participating in NVMTA Festivals, Competitions, theory and sight reading exams gave me and my students directions and goals.
What is your best advice to new members?
I would advise new members to become involved and participate in the NVMTA programs.
Please check boxes to indicate ways you have participated in NVMTA:
Attended in-person NVMTA meetings,
Attended NVMTA zoom meetings (general meetings, TAT, or LATTE),
Entered students in an NVMTA event,
Entered students in an NVMTA competition,
Participated on an NVMTA committee at any level
Please give more information about the items you checked in the previous question. (i.e. what positions you have held or titles of presentations, or favorite events and why etc.)
When I was a new member, I became the chair of the NVMTA Judged Recitals which was a great experience for me. Currently, I am a Member at Large and a co-chair for the Piano Achievements Competition. I like the Bach/Baroque Festival/Competition because it gives a chance to students to perform Bach and other Baroque composers.
What are some ideas you have for NVMTA and its members and students?
I would advise all members and students to be active participants in the NVMTA events.
What is a musical goal (or musical goals) you have?
My goal is to instill the love of music and particularly classical music to my students and be the best possible teacher I could be.
I was very lucky to have a great teacher in Sofia, Bulgaria who taught me from when I was 10 until age 18. Her name is Emilia Kaneva and she was and still is one of the best teachers in the country. She is my inspiration in teaching students when trying to instill the love of music by showing and helping them develop the skills to make beautiful music.
What is one (or more) of your most proud moments in your career?
Recently, I received an email from an adult student who I taught as a beginner about 20 years ago, when I first came to the United States. He wanted to thank me for teaching him “literally everything he knows about piano” and starting him on the piano path which he has continued on his own and successfully passing ABRSM exams after moving to another state and never having another teacher.
When I know that I have inspired students to continue playing the piano as a hobby or professionally after they have graduated from high school, I feel that I have done something right and feel proud that I have contributed in some way.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the members of NVMTA (educational experience, honors, personal interests, hobbies etc.)
I was born in Bulgaria and studied piano performance in Sofia’s Music School and Plovdiv Academy of Arts. My first 2 years of teaching piano was in Athens, Greece. After that, I moved to the Northern Virginia area and have been teaching here for 25 years. I love traveling and visiting new places with my two kids and my husband during the school breaks.
We have an intense musical atmosphere reigning in the house with 5 grand pianos. My husband Eric Himy is a concert pianist and has 2 concert grand pianos (!) in his studio. I have two grand pianos in mine. And an extra grand in a different room for my older son who also plays. Sometimes the pianos are all going at the same time but fortunately the studios are soundproof so that our minds remain intact.
Thank you Margarita, for your service to NVMTA, chairing various events and serving as a member-at large at this time!